An American Marriage by Tayari Jones


An American Marriage is Tayari Jones’ fourth novel and one that boasts the accolade of winning the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2019, beating five other finalists, including my previously reviewed title, My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite.


Jones’ latest follows newlyweds Celestial and Roy at the start of what will prove to be pivotal events in their relationship. Roy is arrested, wrongly accused of rape, and sentenced to twelve years in prison. Throughout the book Roy is mainly in prison whilst Celestial has to deal with the tragedy in the outside world. Five years later Roy is released, determined to find out if there is a marriage left for him to return to. The story is split into three sections with the first one predominantly consisting of letters written to and from Roy by Celestial (and other characters occasionally) as he serves his sentence. Time is quite hard to track during this period although occasional references within character letters suggest years are passing. I like to think this gives a glimpse into Roy’s experience within this period because when in prison it is likely a similar feeling occurs; it's hard to keep track of the days although you know time is indeed passing and the world is moving on without you.


There was little I didn’t like about this book, I salute Jones for what is undoubtedly a wonderfully crafted novel. Her style of writing is soothing and almost poetic, there was little resistance in my reading experience. It also meant she was able to do several emotional scenes in the book justice; makin